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Covid-19 update 19.3.21

COVID-19 SUPPORT update 19.3.21

I’m writing to you with the latest information about financial support schemes available to help you, including the VAT deferral new payment scheme and the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS).

Also included is information on the Department of Health and Social Care’s national workplace testing service.

  1. VAT deferral – apply now to spread your payments
  2. You can now make CJRS claims for March
  3. Extension to the CJRS
  4. Frequently asked questions about the CJRS
  5. Where can I get further support?
  6. National workplace testing for COVID-19
  7. Protect yourself from scams

VAT deferral – apply now to spread your payments

The VAT deferral new payment scheme is open for all businesses who deferred VAT due between 20 March‌‌ ‌and 30‌‌ ‌June 2020 and still have payments to make, or who are unable to pay in full by 31 ‌March‌‌ ‌2021. This includes those on Payment on Account and Annual Accounting schemes.

Apply now to spread these payments over a number of months – the later you join the fewer instalments are available to you. Join by 19‌‌ ‌March 2021 to benefit from the maximum number of 11 instalments.

You can join the scheme quickly and simply online without the need to call HMRC. To find out more information, including the things you need to do before joining, go to GOV‌‌‌.UK and search ‘VAT deferral’.

You need to apply by, or before 21‌‌ ‌June 2021 if you want to join the scheme online.

You can now make CJRS claims for March

You can now submit your CJRS claims for periods in March‌‌ ‌2021. These must be made by Wednesday‌‌ ‌14‌‌ ‌April.

You can claim before, during or after you process your payroll. If you can, it’s best to make a claim once you’re sure of the exact number of hours your employees will work so you don’t have to amend your claim later.

Check if you and your employees are eligible and work out how much you can claim using our CJRS calculator and examples, by searching ‘Job Retention Scheme’ on GOV‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌.UK.

What you need to do now

  1. If you haven’t submitted your claim for February but believe that you have a reasonable excuse for missing the deadline, check if you can make a late claim by searching ‘claim for wages’ on GOV‌‌‌‌‌‌‌.UK.
  2. Submit any claims for March no later than Wednesday‌‌ ‌14‌‌ ‌April.
  3. Keep records that support the amount of CJRS grants you claim, in case HMRC needs to check them. ‌

Extension to the CJRS

As announced in the 2021 Spring Budget, the CJRS has been extended until the end of September‌‌ ‌2021.

For periods from 1‌‌ ‌May‌‌ ‌2021 onwards, you will be able to claim for eligible employees who were on your PAYE payroll on 2 March 2021. This means you must have made a PAYE Real Time Information (RTI) submission between 20‌‌ ‌March 2020 and 2 March 2021, notifying HMRC of earnings for that employee.

The UK Government will continue to pay 80% of employees’ usual wages for the hours not worked, up to a cap of £2,500 per month, up to the end of June‌‌ ‌2021.

For periods in July, CJRS grants will cover 70% of employees’ usual wages for the hours not worked, up to a cap of £2,187.50. In August and September, this will then reduce to 60% of employees’ usual wages up to a cap of £1,875.

You will need to continue to pay your furloughed employees at least 80% of their usual wages for the hours they do not work during this time, up to a cap of £2,500 per month. This means, for periods between July and September, you will need to fund the difference between this and the CJRS grants yourself. You can also top up wages above the 80% if you wish, but you are not required to do so.

You must continue to pay Employer National Insurance contributions and pension contributions on subsidised furlough pay from your own funds.

Entering personal details

When submitting claims, it’s really important to take care when entering your personal details so they’re accurate. To ensure your claim is processed and your grant is paid correctly, please take extra care to check that the bank account details you enter are correct. If you enter an incorrect sort code you will now be alerted to this in the online claims service, and your claim won’t go through.

Frequently asked questions about the CJRS

You can find everything you need to know about the CJRS on GOV‌‌‌‌‌‌‌.UK by searching ‘Job Retention Scheme’, but here are some answers to the questions that employers have been asking us recently:

What if I’ve claimed too much in error?

If you have claimed too much CJRS grant and have not already repaid it, you can repay as part of your next online claim without needing to call us. If you claimed too much but do not plan to submit further claims, you can let us know and make a repayment online through our card payment service or by bank transfer – go to ‘Pay Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme grants back’ on GOV‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌.‌‌‌‌‌‌UK.

You must notify us and repay the money by the latest of whichever date applies below:

  • 90 days from receiving the CJRS money you’re not entitled to
  • 90 days from the point circumstances changed so that you were no longer entitled to keep the CJRS grant.

If you do not do this, you may have to pay interest and a penalty as well as repaying the excess CJRS grant. For more information on interest search ‘Interest rates for late and early payments’ on GOV‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌.‌‌‌UK.

What if I haven’t claimed enough?

If you made a mistake in your claim that means you received too little money, you’ll need to amend it within 28‌‌ ‌calendar days after the month the claim relates to – unless this falls on a weekend or bank holiday, in which case the deadline is the next weekday. The deadline to amend claims for February is Monday‌‌ ‌29‌‌ ‌March.

To find out how to amend your claim, search ‘Get help with the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme’.

Where can I get further support?

Thousands of people have benefitted from our webinars which offer information on the CJRS and other support, and how they apply to you. To book online, or to view updated guidance, go to GOV‌‌‌‌‌‌.UK and search ‘help and support if your business is affected by coronavirus’. If you’re booked on a webinar but can no longer attend, please cancel your place where possible to allow space for others to register.

There’s a list of monthly claims deadlines and a helpful step-by-step guide on GOV‌‌‌‌‌.UK, summarising the latest information on the CJRS and the steps you need to take to make a claim – you can find these by searching ‘Job Retention Scheme step by step guide’.

National workplace testing for COVID-19

All businesses with employees in England who can’t work from home can now sign up for free, rapid workplace testing, including those still closed due to lockdown. You’ll be provided with all the information you need to plan and deliver testing, and you can order tests through the GOV‌‌‌.UK portal.

You’ll need to register by 31‌‌ ‌March, and free tests will currently be provided until the end of June.

You can find out more and sign up on GOV‌‌‌.UK – search ‘Register to order free rapid lateral flow tests’.

Protect yourself from scams   

Stay vigilant about scams, which may mimic government messages as a way of appearing authentic. Search ‘scams’ on GOV‌.UK for information on how to recognise genuine HMRC contact. You can forward suspicious emails claiming to be from HMRC to and texts to 60599.

Access the National Cyber Security Centre’s guide on how to stay secure online and protect yourself and your business against cyber crime by searching ‘Cyber‌‌ Aware’ on GOV‌‌‌.UK.

I hope this information helps you and your business, and we’ll continue to keep you updated.